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When bad weather affects the garden

From GARDENA Brand Ambassador Sarah the Gardener One of the great things about gardening is the ability to control the space to create a vista that reflects your taste and style. However, there is one thing we can’t control and that is the weather.

For most of the time the weather can be managed without too much inconvenience, but sometimes weather events can strike with a severity that can cause damage to the garden. Some are in season and expected but other times they can occur completely out of the blue and can take you by surprise.

What to do if your garden is affected by bad weather?

FROST

Frost is an ever-present possibility for almost half of the year! It is the greatest risk to tender plants, especially if they have been planted too soon in the spring or if they prefer a warmer environment.

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast and have frost cloth at the ready if the temperatures are likely to plunge to freezing.
  • Don’t plant out warm-loving seedlings until the risk of frost has passed. Besides, plants planted to soon, before it is warm enough, will struggle to thrive.
  • At the end of the season, bring tender plants indoors or into sheltered locations and harvest what you can from the vegetable patch to avoid losing the harvest.
  • Protect at-risk dormant perennials in the garden with a covering of mulch, leaves or compost to protect them from harm.
  • If plants in the landscape become damaged to frost, just leave them alone until the warmer weather. Pruning off the frost damage or feeding the plant can encourage new growth that can also be hit by frost. The damaged plant material can act as protection from further harm.

Frost has its advantages; it can put a dent in pest and disease populations, and can break up clumps and lumps in the soil with its freeze and thaw action. Also, winter vegetables are sweeter after a hit of frost.

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FLOODING

As much as plants need water to survive, too much water can be detrimental.

  • Avoid walking on the garden or the lawn when it is flooded, or the soil is saturated. This can compact the soil and cause long term damage to the soil structure.
  • Most plants can cope for up to a week in flooded soil, but they can become starved of oxygen, which can lead to root damage. Leaves can turn yellow and drop although they may not show signs of damage until much later.
  • Nutrients can be washed away resulting in an acidic soil. This can be fixed by adding plenty of well-rotted organic material to return a healthy balance and restore the soil structure.
  • Take extra precautions with contaminated flood waters to stay safe. Don’t eat anything from the garden and wear protective gear when working with the garden.
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WIND

Wind can be devasting in the garden and if you live in a windy spot, it is best to take preventative action to avoid the worst harm to the garden.

  • Plant or invest in wind breaks to slow the prevailing winds and protect exposed parts of your garden.
  • Maintain your structures, greenhouses, and sheds to keep them secure and in good order. Check supports at ground level to make sure they haven’t rusted or rotted allowing the structure to collapse in a wind.
  • Many items lying about the garden can become a damaging projectile if picked up by a strong wind, or be blown off your property. So remember to put away tools, equipment, and supplies once you have finished using them.
  • Ensure lightweight greenhouses are weighted down or well secured to something solid as they can become like kites in even the most gentle wind.
  • To prevent wind damage to trees and from falling branches, check trees for weak, diseased, and dead branches and prune to reduce the risk.
  • Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Wait until the wind dies down before attempting to protect the garden or trying to fix damage.
  • When clearing up after the storm use all the appropriate protective equipment, especially when using power tools.

Adverse weather is never welcome, however knowing what to do before, during and after can help the garden recover and go on to give you joy. And remember that while storm damage is not ideal, a garden is constantly changing and evolving. Gardens can easily recover, plants can be replanted, and new opportunities can arise from a devastating situation.